I enjoy bonfire night and often take my kids to displays. But as a police officer, the Halloween and bonfire night periods are some of our busiest nights of the year.
This year we received our highest ever number of calls on Halloween, but thanks to the commitment of our officers and staff the night was peaceful and children got to make happy memories in a safe atmosphere.
Over the bonfire night period this weekend, we’re likely to see an increase in calls about anti-social behaviour. Although under 18s can’t legally buy fireworks, somehow they do manage to get hold of them and we often receive reports of people using them irresponsibly.
But when fireworks get into the wrong hands, they can cause damage.
One year I was on duty, I had a call that someone had let a firework off and it had flown across a road. Thankfully nobody was hurt, but that’s just one example of something that could go wrong and end up having serious consequences for someone.
We still have our usual amount of incidents to attend to, which can include domestic related incidents and reports of serious violence, so reports of anti-social behaviour over the bonfire night period do create extra demand for us and place more pressure on our response officers.
It is important that members of the public contact us about the inappropriate use of fireworks. You can do this via our online reporting centre, or by calling 999 in an emergency.
If we’re called to reports of anti-social behaviour, our call handlers will assess the threat, harm and risk of the incident before any resources are assigned to respond. If someone is seriously injured as a result of firework related anti-social behaviour, then it will be a priority for us.
However, a stabbing with a serious injury, or a high risk domestic incident, versus a group being rowdy will result in a different response and level of priority.
If we’re called to firework-related ASB, those responsible could be arrested depending on the risk, the level of danger and the offences being committed. Aside from the risk of serious injury by using fireworks irresponsibly, I hope our young people think seriously about whether they would rather spend a night in custody or avoid trouble and spend the night at home.
There are so many displays now that there isn’t really any need for people to be letting off fireworks in parks and other public spaces, potentially causing distress to others and potentially risking serious injuries. The displays also know the correct times for letting off fireworks – it’s against the law to set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am, but on bonfire night adults are allowed to set off fireworks until midnight.
I hope those celebrating this weekend choose to attend organised displays, where the organisers are aware of limits, restrictions and safety requirements. And more importantly, have a safe and fun weekend.
Inspector Kelly Day has been a police officer for 16 years, working primarily on response. She now oversees response officers in Luton.